The Story of Evolution and the Evolution of Stories:
Thank you for sharing your story Mary, it mustn't have been easy for you at all...
In response to Orah's conversation starter, I feel silly saying that at 22 I have clung onto someone as if my life depended on it and am still not able to let go. I had a car accident two years ago- I was driving and fell asleep at the wheel. One of my best friends was in the car and she broke her femur, wrist, nose and sinuses. She had to go through major surgery and physiotherapy. I had never experienced such an all consuming guilt and moved in with my long term boyfriend through my physical recovery (I injured my back). I just remember the time at the hospital when I refused to let him out of my sight. With my family so far away, I became a huge clinger and made him the thread that held my life together. A year ago I started to come out of my depressed state and got a little less clingy. He couldn't deal with losing my dependence on him. To make a long story short, I lost him and thought for the longest time that I had lost something I truly believed would be forever. It's been a few months but I'm still clinging, not to him, but a godforsaken memory that doesn't even exist anymore. What I'm doing to deal with the loss is thinking thinking thinking and trying my hardest to REDUCE the divide between my rational thoughts and my impulsive actions.
Being as stubborn as I am, my immediate reaction was "of course i don't rely on other people, i'm exceedingly independent, self reliant, and damn good at it at that." However, after reading her question I went on to reading some of your reactions to my post about Ahab's Wife. Some of you articulated beautifully my ideas that I was poking at but couldn't express (Mary correctly identified Una as a threatening character while Katherine pointed out that the text isn't up to par with the original). Reading your thoughts made my thoughts clearer. The clarity of my thoughts were somewhat reliant on yours. They may still be my thoughts, but they were affected by all of you. And so, while I'm not sure that we're dependent on others entirely, we cannot help but being affected by each other. And i think that is a stronger, healthier connection than dependence, and so that is how I will choose to think of our interactions.
i think this is the pleading, begging, desperate prayer of humanity. LET PEOPLE STAY! please, oh please, don't take my loves away from me. we ask for consiousness from The Unconscious, we ask for Presence within The Absence, We ask for an excuse, an exception from the cruel blows of Nature.
ps em, i love the mary oliver quote ... don't know who she is ... but ... it's a wonderful quote. thank you for it.
pps i'm reading over this post and i've been to ambitious ... have tried to say more than i can ... i hope you get the idea.
(As if I hadn't said enough today already! However...there's been more a-brewing since...)
I've been thinking a lot about Diane's saying, "The author is not doing anything particularly innovative here. Innovation would mean that the book could stand on its own." Following Susan's observation in class today--"I'm the product of my parents, but I think I'm something unique!"--I've been thinking about a different/evolutionary way of describing "innovation." It comes straight from the Working Group on "Emergent Systems," where Tim Burke's saying that emergence (=evolution)
* Suggests a new way to talk about the irreducibility of later conditions to initial conditions while also insisting that they are always related.
* A new way to think about the appearance of novelty and newness in a system without insisting on total disjuncture or disconnection.
--led me to describe literature as being continuously productive of what is new, by re-organizing what has been into new-yet-similar forms (Forbidden Planet takes off from The Tempest, West Side Story is a new version of Romeo and Juliet , etc. etc. etc.)
I was also particularly struck, during class--as was probably evidenced by my questioning her repeatedly--by Susan's observation that she felt "belittled" by Una's choices, which differed so strikingly from her own (or her own imagined ones?) I'd like to ask you all what Una will (soon) ask Margaret Fuller: "to what extent we model our lives from our reading?" (p. 417). Or, in the language of this course, what roles do stories play in YOUR evolution as a human being? Do they function for you the way her various paired friendships functioned for Una, as mirrors onto which you project--or from which you incorporate--various (possible) aspects of self? (If so, what stories have shaped who you have become? I'll start: Gone with the Wind. Jane Eyre. The Scarlet Letter. Moby Dick. Ahab's Wife. Beloved. Paradise etc. etc. etc.--the pattern's pretty obvious here!)
My last observation is a response to Cham's posting, that "I choose to see my own smallness as opportunity rather than vulnerability." For the Graduate Idea Forum , we are reading this week Antonio Damasio's The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness. On p. 78, he says,
"Punishment causes organisms to close themselves in...withdrawing from their surrounding. Reward causes organisms to open themselves up and out toward their environment, approaching it, searching it, and by so doing increasing both their opportunity...and their vulnerability. This fundamental duality is apparent in a creature as simple and presumably as nonconsicous as a sea anemone....The circumstance surrounding the sea anemone determine what its entire organism does: open up to the world like a blossoming flower--at which point water and nutrients enter its body and supply it with energy--or close itself...small, withdrawn, and nearly imperceptible to others...
As I've said in another context, "With fronds like these, who needs anemones?"
Thanks again to all for the interdependence of this project of thinking together about the evolution our lives, and how stories "accelerate" that process...
Or do they??
others that have shaped me: cater in the rye (and is still shapping me,) franny and zooey, seymour and introduction, eliot's four quartets (and proofrock), the complete poems of emily dickinson (though i have yet to finish it.) on the road, rilke's duino elegies, moby dick, angels in america ...
i was brought up on mockingbird ... so i guess that has shapped me in the deepest way ... as my parents have shapped me.
The stories in this forum evolve me. There is so much richness of experience, literure commentary, poetry, and personal views. I would like to say now that being a McBride student at Bryn Mawr also opens me up to the stories of you younger women all the time. It's fascinating and changes me in ways that I cherish. I would also like to say thanks to Professor Dalke and Professor Grobstein for offering this course on Evolution of Stories as one that is truly so because it has been a course based on ALL OF OUR EVOLVING STORIES as we proceed thru the texts. Very neat! It is a wonderful way to go about understanding the topic at hand. Thank you both for your insight and innovation in education and multiplicity.
Simran -- your car crash story, now that is a story! I think it can be an example of how we all become affected by stories and why we lean on stories for comfort and for their usefulness. That is something that we talked about in the beginning of the course. I still see ONLY these two values in stories, comfort and usefulness. If anyone else has another value of stories, please comment.
In Simran's case, I think that (like Orah posted about), the telling of one's story, no matter if it's of cannibalism, schizophrenia, a car crash, or something extreme -- is a strong desire for humans. When we are able to share our difficult stories with compassionate people, we lighten the load somehow. And when we read literature, we share stories that help us think thru our human experience, comfort us when needed and learn some lessons as we think thru the patterns of others experiences and their responses to them. Simran, I hope that sharing your story has helped you, I definitely feel for your pain and I hope that you can let go of it. I hope that stories can help you see you do not deserve guilt for an unintentional occurence.
ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF HOW STORIES EVOLVE US THROUGH THE ELEMENTS OF COMFORT AND USEFULNESS:
I think that Melville greatly appreciates diversity and open-mindedness (which are really one and the same), and humans need this desperatedly in order to live more peaceful lives. I witness Melville's prioriy of diversity and open-mindedness when at the very opening of Moby Dick he gives us the many different words for whale. This etymology humbly expresses right from the get-go that words are transient, that they may mean something, but they are changeable/flexible (open-mindedness), and that views such as a Late Consumptive Usher to a Grammar School or a Sub-Sub-Librarian's should be appreciated (diversity) . Melville then continues the openmindedness and diversity theme as he awesomely packs his story full of intricate patterns, weaving possible meaning into it, but most attractively, stimulating the meaning-seeking mind in ways that encourage one's own interpretation.
In the 1800s, appreciation for diversity and open-mindedness was just beginning to blossom thru society. Social thought was progressing in this more liberal way since the 1500s, due to expansion into diverse lands/cultures, the breakdown of religious authority as the ultimate authority and the growth of scientific thought. There was the breakdown of aristocracy, the rise of democracy, religious freedoms, literacy, the growth of the middle/working classes, the end of black slavery, and the beginnings of feminist theory. Melville's message of open-mindedness and appreciation of diversity told the story that was evolving in humanity! He gave an eloquent fellow voice to this new feeling within, and modeled a openminded approach to thought. His approach is still helpful today as we struggle through our issues of acceptance of others (same-sex marriage for instance). There is usefulness and comfort in his great tragedy that goes beyond the tragedy.
So, Anne, in response to your question do stories evolve us? that's the way I see it.
I said so little.
Days were short.
I said so little.
I couldn't keep up.
My heart grew weary
The jaws of Leviathan
Were closing upon me.
Naked, I lay on the shores
Of desert islands.
The white whale of the world
Hauled me down to its pit.
And now I don't know
What in all that was real.
now i suppose the poem is a bit of a downer, but i'm going to take cham's stance and say that even though, according to milosz, we can't keep up, it is still worth it to talk. so perhaps we should just chew our humble pie with our mouths wide open, saying all the things we want to say. it is still worth it to connect. thanks for the connecting yesterday in class.
as for stories that have made me who i am, or caused me to evolve-- i love the poetry of mary oliver and jane kenyon: nature-centered women's voices that seem to speak to me directly. the mendelssohn octet speaks to me; the barber violin concerto is part of my blood; the schubert quintet carries me places. but by far my favorite and most shaping story is the story my parents tell me about their moon-faced baby with a shock of black hair and how she grew. i carry the most tenderness by far for that story of myself and my origin, and it influences me to this day. i feel it always will.
I want to tell you something that is perhaps as telling as a direct....which is that I would not give you my list in a public forum, only as a trusted friend. So YES, you have hit upon a telling aspect about who we are in each, our own minds--or at least me in mine.
I am wondering if so visceral a reaction signals something innate... am I protecting my identity, and is that identity my story, my evolving story, which Dennett and others believe to be the "self?" If my self is a story that writes me, then you have indeed asked a most personal question! '-)
Which makes me also wonder if "Susan's observation that she felt "belittled" by Una's choices, which differed so strikingly from her own (or her own imagined ones?)" can be extended to the rest of us. Is it a test of excellent writing or "genius" when several people (such as we were in class Tuesday) feel a relation to or seem to understand a character? I'm thinking about some stuff Emerson wrote in "Nature" (It's been decades since I did Emerson)...but his notion was that IF private thoughts of a speaker or writer could be understood by others, then the work was genius. We are getting Naslund's private thoughts through Una, I believe. And I also believe that, if the self is a narrator of its own autobiography, then Susan's reaction is making a lot of sense.
"ahab's wife" emulates "moby dick" in a way that shifts the focus from the readers' interpretation of arcane symbols and enigmatic images to the mere description of events. the aims of the authors diverge, i guess. comprised of loosely connected chapters, "moby dick" engages the readers, making them superimpose their own experiences onto the simplified plot. the journey of ishmael and the rest of the crew is more imaginary (cognitive, taking place in the conscious and unconscious parts of the protagonsits' brains) rather than physical; it does not seem real to me. so, being so cerebral in nature, the book urges me to make sense of the myriad of ideas and images and arrange them in a coherent story. in other words, because of the compelling need for interpretation, "moby dick" is what i make of it. without me to make a meaning of it, it will exist as a heap of type written pages. because of my active role/importance in construing/making sense of the book, i never lost interest.
in comparison, "ahab's wife" stresses on the role of a lucid plot/events, meticulously articulated and accounted for. in my opinion, naslund relies on the emotions that the strange events (like the cannibalism account for example) elicit from the readers. in my opinion, it is those emotions that might appeal to readers, but not to me. searching for a meaning in her life, una gives plausible analyses of everything that happens to her. being too explicit, the plot and the ideas do not give me much room to play with the images in the book. not that i dislike reading adventure stories in general, but what is my role as a reader in this story?
Before I share the revelation I'd just like to say how HARD it is to dislike this book. I feel like so many people in the class love Ahab's Wife and I feel to hate this novel is almost like saying I'm an enemy to women's rights, or female fiction writers, or whatever. I'm not an enemy. I swear.
It's not like the book is awful. In fact it is engaging and I, too, have difficulty putting it down. But it's like a dark cloud over my head...there's something about the book I don't quite trust.
It stems from my refusal to assign a meaning to Moby Dick, which Naslund has unabashedly done. By writing Ahab's Wife she assigns more worth to the feminist reading of MD than say the religious reading or the Marxist reading. I feel like she's reduced MD to a nineteenth century american gender war. Una is so strong-willed, and yet so feminine, and confident, and yet at times vulnerable - she's the epitome of sfemaleness! (certain socities' def'ns of femaleness, anyway). If Toni Morrison had written, say, Ahab's Cabin Boy, a novel about Pip, or Ahab's Harpooner, a novel about Daggoo, I would equally dislike it. These readings are worthy of investigation, yes, but I feel like Naslund has an agenda. It's obvious from her first line...this is a book, not about MD or about Melville or even Ahab really, but about women's rights. About a nineteenth century female american named Una whose demanding to be heard from among a sea of male characters. MD is much more than that.
Evolution. The very fact that Naslund had this reading, this vision of Una on deck, is an illustration of the evolution of society. I doubt anyone in the nineteenth century would have thought of placing a woman on deck in response to MD.
This mimicry can't be kept up, I think. Melville managed to slip away from the first person POV he started out with because he wasn't strongly tied to it from the beginning. It is mostly used to show what Ishmael sees; we rarely hear about what he feels, how he percieves the world. AW, on the other hand, is powerfully tied to Una. The bulk of the book is what Una feels, how her internal world reacts to the external one. No matter how exciting the adventures of the book, the point of the book is how Una reacts to those adventures. The little forays into other characters' POVs are interesting, but they take away from what has been the main focus of the book up til now.
Another reason Melville managed to change POV succesfully is because he is a naturally rather untidy writer, packing his book with adventure and philosophy like someone might pack a drawer full of random but beloved mementoes. Naslund is a more organized writer, orbiting about the same themes and ideas throughout, keeping all the events in Una's life in mind throughout, and concentrating on Una's life and spirit.
Naslund cannot follow Melville in his change of focus, but she seems determined to try to follow the change of structure that Melville changed focus with. Usually she seems to have a good reason for most things she does, but I can't figure out the reasoning behind this. Perhaps it will become clear as I get furthur into the book.
i guess my main problem with (some kinds of) feminism is that it is always a RESPONSE to a sexist thing, always a response to the way women are seen in relation to men ... but my existence is not a response. I AM. and i do not depend on that which is not me. get it ?
i just am.
((i'm sure i've pissed people off at this point ... bring on the counter arguments please ... anne, you love this book, argue with me, please))
man, i got really carried away! i really do like the novel, if you can beleive it... i just have to be talking about the right stuff...
so, (whew!) again from class: is there actually something that is good literature. or is literature essentially based upon and reliant on an INTERACTION between author and reader. if lit. is based on this relationship then there is no such thing as good literature or bad literature because the quality depends on something that is not a constant ... you cannot say that the outcome of a set number and a variable will always be positive ... because there is no way of knowing, or setting a standard to the variable ... UNLESS! we place rules on the variable, put parameters around the reader ... meaning, that we can consider md great lit only if we say that it is great TO a specific group. that's disturbing. that means that the cannon is created with the assumption of certain readers and ignoreing others. that's huge!!! maybe that's the problem with society in general. that we have these standards in our culture that might be oppressive to a certain group but that group cannot articulate the oppression because they are outside the parameters of the variable. example: md is a part of the cannon of 'great lit,' it is debatably The Great American Novel. BUT, i am pretty sure that there are americans out there who are not going to find ANYTHING resonant in md ... so who gets to call it The Great Novel? who holds the power ? and i'm wondering (now that i've convinced myself that the cannonization of lit. is oppressive) what lit. would look like, what an english class would look like if students were taught that the quality of literature is based completely on their resonance with the text. would english class syllabi then be based on student's experience ... students on a military base would read war stories, students at BMC would read feminist lit, students at a catholic school would read catholic writings ... what would society look like then??? what would it mean if we didn't have any texts in common ? and does a classroom like that DEMAND similarity as opposed to difference ... what about diversity ... are we sacrificing the quality of what we read (assuming that quality of lit. is based on interaction with reader) for diversity in the classroom?
anyways, i hope no one hates me after this post ... :)
Orah, I want to answer your question obliquely, out of the utterly amazing discussion we had in my section this afternoon. As you will see by what's upcoming, I very much hope that my fellow cannibals (as well as my fellows-in-refusing-cannibalism) will add their stories to mine.
We began w/ observations about the similarities between Daniela's and Student Contributor's recent postings, above: both of them refused (though Student Contributor did so w/ more ambivalence) the explicit-and-thereby-so-constricting-to-the-imagination nature of the novel, and Diane quickly joined them (as later did Perrin and Jen). We had an awfully interesting discussion, arising from these comments, about our different ways of learning: some of us prefer the implicit-and-expansive sort of literature, that lets us shape it in accord w/ our own selves; others of us prefer the explicit-constricted sort, because it gives us a very clear platform to push off from (so, for example: do you prefer assignments that "tell you what the teacher wants," or assignments that say, "go exploring in an area that interests you"? Do you prefer classes that have a decided "arc"--an idea to teach you, and directed instruction--or classes that lay out rich feasts, from which you select what interests you? Do you prefer teachers who have "designs" on you, or those who do not?) A related question is whether Ahab's Wife is a "constriction" that limits Moby-Dick to feminist concerns, or an "expansion" that takes a tiny bit of Melville's novel and extends it enormously....
It was very interesting to me that so many of us felt assaulted and outraged by the novel, SO SCRIPTED BY IT TO BE UNA. Naslund wrote a script that some of us refuse to enact; that script has everything to do w/ how we think of ourselves as intellectual women. For some of us, it isn't capacious enough, for others not accurate enough, in describing ourselves.
(We also had much interesting discussion about what it means to occupy an identity category--why we choose/refuse various labels, who polices their boundaries, and why....)
What I found, to lay aside these resistances and refusals, is something Una says, from her roof-walk, at the very end of the novel: "What are your houses, dear readers...but platforms to lift you up? Walk above your house, and the heavens are open to you. Let what might seem like roof for your head become floor for your feet" (662). In other words, "I'm not building a house to confine you. I've built a structure for you to stand atop, to look off from, in order that you might built your own structure, stepping off from/evolving from mine...."
Another compelling image (can't believe I didn't include this Tuesday, in the section of my talk about "skyhooks"). Una asks Ishmael whether he minds if they write the same book, and he responds,
"Think of the mighty Cathedral of Cologne...left with the crane still standing upon the top of the uncompleted tower...think of the Cathedral of Chartres. Think of its two towers. They do not match at all. Built perhaps a century apart, or more; but without both spires our Chartres would not be Chartres....[cut to slice from M-D] Small erections may be finished by their first architects; grand ones, true ones, ever leave the finishing to posterity. My whole book is but a draft--nay, but the draft of a draft." I said I feel the same about my book. (663)
And of course I'm hoping that each of you can feel the same about yours....and about the stories you are making of your lives (the idea here being that authors are not building houses for us to live in, but rather towers that invite us to build towers of our own....)
(Always, repeatedly, the most moving line to me in Toni Morrison's Beloved occurs when, on the last page of the novel, having listened to Sethe's account, Paul D. thinks that "He wants to put his story next to hers." )
Final challenge to us all (via Student Contributor, who claimed towards the end of our session that "most men would not like this book"). Since our current data set is SO skewed/restricted--35 women, with a wide range of reactions, and one man who says he likes it very much--I propose we now go out and ask all the boys we know whether or not they like the novel. (If we discover that none of them have read it, does that indicate that they will not touch novels w/ "wife" in the title--even if said character eventually works herself out of that category? And/or would/will they dislike the fact that she does??)
Fascinating questions, ladies.
Answers, anyone? Further towers?
With much gratitude for the shared structures we are all building here together,
Okay, so: once I get to building my own tower, I can't quite quit, have trouble topping it off...
I ended that last post w/ images both of towers atop towers, and of free-standing towers. I want to "put next" to those fairly "static" images two much more dynamic ones:
Re: my observations Tuesday that "Una has a own center, but is not one"--
two more apt quotations.
The first is from a very cool piece called "Aesthetics," by Joanna Russ, an English prof @ U Washington, who writes feminist science fiction and critical studies of utopia. Russ ends this particular piece (reprinted in Feminisms: An Anthology of Literary Theory and Criticism, ed. Robyn Warhol & Diane Price Herndl, Rutgers U Press, 1997) w/ this passage (I haven't been able to track down "glotologgish," but suspect is has something to do w/ distorting language....):
"There used to be an odd, popular, and erroneous idea that the sun revolved around the earth.This has been replaced by an even odder, equally popular, and equally erroneous idea that the earth goes around the sun. In fact, the moon and the earth revolve around a common center, and this commonly-centered pair revolves w/ the sun around another common center, except that you must figure in all the solar planets here, so things get complicated. Then there is the motion of the solar system w/ regard to a great many other objects, e.g., the galaxy, and if at this point you ask what does the motion of the earth really look like from the center of the entire universe, say (and where are the Glotolog?), the only answer is:
that is doesn't,
Because there isn't."
The related, and as striking passage, is from a book by another lit-crit person, Katherine Hayles, Chaos Bound: Orderly Disorder in Contemporary Literature and Science (Cornell U Press, 1990)--w/ thanks to Ted Wong, supplier:
"It all started w/ the moon. If only the earth could have gone round the sun by itself, unperturbed by the complications in its orbit which the moon's gravitational field introduced, Newton's equations of motion would have worked fine. But when the moon entered the picture, the situation became too complex for simple dynamics to handle. The moon attracted the earth, causing perturbations in the earth's orbit which changed the earth's distance from the sun, which in turn altered the moon's orbit around the earth, which meant that the original basis for the calculation had changed and one had to start over from the beginning. The problem was sufficiently complex and interesting to merit a name and a prize of its own. It became known as the three-body problem...."
paul d's line IS so moving. so so moving.
it speaks to a relationship in which the two characters allow each other to be. it reflects a respectful SILENCE ...
there are stories that are so horrific, so sorrowful and painful that any words in response will diminish them. ((Theodor W. Adorno, the german marxist philosopher says, "writing poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric.")) words are violent! they restrict! how dare we restrict each other's stories?!?!? paul d does not restrict. the only thing we can do is EXIST SIMULTANEOUSLY IN SILENCE beside other's pain.
holden (for those of you who don't know the story: holden is greiving over the loss of his dead beloved brother, allie, who died at 13 of leukemia): decides to run away where he doesn't know anybody "i'd pretend i was one of those deaf-mutes. that way i woun't have to have any goddam stupid useless conversations with anybody. if anybody wanted to tell me something, they'd have to write it on a piece of paper and shove it over to me. they'd get bored as hell doing that after a while, and then i'd be through with having conversations for the rest of my life. everybody'd think i was just a poor deaf-mute bastard and they'd leave me alone...i'd meet this beautiful girl that was also a deaf-mute and we'd get married. she'd come and live in my cabin with me, and if she wanted to say anything to me, she'd have to write it on a godam peice of paper."
i think that relevant to paul d.
thanks again, anne.
We had a delicious discussion in Anne's section on Thursday. I took something away from it that we all talked around but didn't foveate on.
We were drawn back to the topic of cannibalism, more specifically what it means to be Labeled a cannibal. Then without skipping a beat we moved on to the label "lesbian." Perhaps I'm reading too much into this, which I often do, but I'm saddened that we made such an easy transition from "cannibal" to "lesbian." It is a reality that these two labels have a similar negative connotation for most of the general population. I think it suprised me because I spend too much time around all of you beautiful, accepting women. And while I know that Mawrters don't group these two labels in the way that the rest of the world does, I had forgotten that these feelings existed until our discussion on Thursday.
My most recent paper was a close reading of Moby Dick, specifically what the sexualized language means to the story. My argument was that homosexuality is a dark, ominous cloud hanging above Queequeg's and Ishmael's relationship. Looking back on writing the paper I realize that I approached the paper as if I were writing about a time distant from us, or about something that is no longer an issue. I think that it feels so distant because this warm accepting coomunity is physically removed, although the atmosphere in the rest of the world has not changed. Moby Dick was not a cloistered time that existed only in Grimm's fairy tales. It is now and we own it. We are all still living with this, and I feel ashamed to have forgotten it. So I suppose what I'm really getting at is, are we better because some of us, myself included, overlook the baggage that some people in the world impose on us? Which is more productive? Those who live in reality (ie not here)? And the healthier ones? I think healthy people are the happy people who are immune to this reality. Yet sometimes I feel that being okay with this would mean turning my back on those who haven't forgotten, who aren't yet comfortable with their place in the world. Because I truly want to make this better, but as a person who is comfortable with herself I do not have the motivation to cut into something that has already healed for me. Maybe I was never cut in the first place, which would say something about my nature and be a justification for my forgetting. Are those who have forgotten just stupid? Today I'm feeling pretty stupid.
and we're just beautiful. :) yeh!
ps diane, i wish you had come to the diversity talk on friday... you should check out anne's write up on seredip if you get a chance. :)
Occurs to me, particularly after our last thursday conversation, that I ought to thank you all not only for the generic letting me be a part of all this but also for the genderic letting me be a part of all this (hoping some others will fill in stories .... Reeve? Stephanie? Lindsay? etc?). In some such conversations I'd be feeling like an unwanted (at best) outsider. Seems here to be just "her, and him", and a different her, and another different her, and .... Thanks for that too.
Coursework is winding down and paying off as it comes to an end that is not an end at all, is it. I'm imagining standing with Orah on edge of her cliff, looking directly down onto a tall spiral. All that I can see is one closed circle, but from any other angle --any fresh angle will do--I can see the coil rising, loop over loop, closing never being an option, only up, up, and up.
Since we are now all on this cliff '-),
echoing your generic/genderic thought... I've gotta say that more than once I've been grateful for the grace and graciousness of my classmates who must have, at times, felt that their mother's older sister had orbed into the discussion. Thanks guys, for the generationic letting me, too, be a part, too.
Oh, Diane, who says, "Today I'm feeling pretty stupid." Today, I'd say, you are showing us your very smart thinking. Your question--"are we better because some of us...overlook the baggage that some people in the world impose on us?" and your claim--"I think healthy people are the happy people who are immune to this reality"--are precisely the question and claim that the Friday afternoon "Making Sense of Diversity" conversations have been working, repeatedly, since September. As Orah said, these are the questions we worked especially hard this past Friday. See my report on the conversation @ "Sexual Orientation and Perception." Orah, Em and Paul, who were also there, can fill you in w/ their perceptions about what happened--and I warmly invite you all to comment in that forum on the related range of ideas we've been wrestling with here. I echo both Diane and Paul in calling the process "delicious."
i needed to draw attention to this line, because i fully agree, and i think that this need we have is what makes us human. i often wonder why i get attached to relationships. i have never been able to settle on an answer that i was comfortable with, mostly because those answers were "too Una" for me. orah has just made me realize, i want my stories reflected back onto me so that i can see them and shape them, i want them augmented by the other people i bond with. i also want my stories to better theirs'. our need is so beautiful because it is so much more than just clingyness. seems egotistical i suppose, yet i can't frown on this self centered exchange because of the beauty it has given each of us.
"I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by maddness
Starving, hysterical naked
Dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix." -Ginsberg
YOU are my drug, and i willingly following you all into maddness
we are mad poets, desperatly trying to better each other's stories, we are icarus TOGETHER! bound together flying higher and higher and higher and i don't care if we burn because we're going to fly higher than anyone has ever flown!
Don't know if you refer to it as feminism or is this label too constricted?
I think feminism is still a good description of 'a movement of the soul of women to claim more of what is theirs', and to guard the equality has been achieved. Because it was dire straights before and we are not that far away from the chains of psychological weaponry. And some women in America and the rest of the world are still under chains and lock.
In spite of this, I still like Una for who she is, somewhat fluffy (meaning feminine without free choice of what is femininity) , but the inner self is open and strong. Look at her time period and learn what it was like to be a woman back then. I too, am fluffy I'm sure, because of the previous generations of ideas of what a woman should be like, as we all are to some degree. The change is what fascinates me though. Wow' do you have any idea of what it was like to be a woman in the sixties? It was so much more backward than it is today. Women were the only ones who shopped for food! They were the only ones who changed diapers! I know there is still stagnation of the gender roles but there has been tremendous change. Now there is just as many men in the supermarkets as there are women. Gender has come a long way to release itself from the bonds of power, but not far enough. And I am so glad that some of you see that! That's why I am happy to see the storm that has erupted in our stories. And that's why I will be in Washington this upcoming Sunday to March for Women's Rights!
Also: reading Lauren's post, I took away her claim that "Everyone will leave here, and the accepting environment that's been so good to us will have just strengthened us to better take on the narrow-mindedness we'll encounter every day. "
Now, this is what I would like to believe, but as there is NO ONE in my family who likes Bryn Mawr except me, I have heard every argument to the contrary- How can we talk about diversity at an institution which will not even consider half the populationof the world for admission? How can we be sure that the "warm, accepting environment" won't just make us soft?
In my continued decision and effort to attend Bryn Mawr, I grapple with this on a fairly regular basis...I still have not found peace. But as Orah has noted, we are 'flying higher together' so: can anyone help me?
don't want to be "the jewish student in every classroom who makes it her personal responsibility to let the whole class know that she was personally affected by the holocaust." i'm not trying to do that. but, yesterday was holocaust rememberance day and i think it's imperative to actually remember. who was it? walter benjamine? who said that if we don't remember the victums of history that we are victumizing them again by letting the victors hold history at the tip of their pens. so ... i remember with you ...
did you know that if you counted (1,2,3,...) for your whole life, 5 days a week, 9-5, all year long, you would never make it to 6 million. not even close.
i read names for 15 minutes today outside the campus center and thought that each name on that list was an embodied story. no longer embodies these stories have been reduced to names. no longer stories, they are now ... what are they now? names read amongst other names. demolished stories that come together only to tell One story. THIS IS DEATH. THESE NAMES I READ ARE THE HOLOCAUST. there is nothing more.
think of your own life ... think of how desperatly we try to get people to understand us, to know our stories, think of how desperatly we value our stoies, we spend our whole lives telling our stories .... and now 6 million stories are contracted into names. gutted so bare that only ink remains. each of those names was an aching desperate story. now they are names that i read in a monotone.
Those are some serious questions. While I can't offer any concrete answers, I can say what I choose to believe about Bryn Mawr thus far in my short stay. I firmly believe that Bryn Mawr could NOT be Bryn Mawr if it was coed. If Bryn Mawr were coed, I fear the traditions, community, and spirit would be completely different if existant at all. Furthermore, I don't think of the college as excluding half of the population but strengthening the other half (and hopefully strengthening the entire population in turn). While I wish boys could experience and appreciate Bryn Mawr, I don't think many college-age boys could or would handle it. I think you are probably right to think that we may be missing out of something, different perspectives and stories, by not having boys, and there is an honest fear in that we are not as liberal or open minded as we think we are because of that, but I honestly don't think the lack of boys makes us less liberal, definitely a little biased but not narrowed.
I acknowledge and thank Mary for her BMC/feminism praise. I am continually suprised and impressed by the diverse breed of women here, the school and the pride that comes with knowing other Mawters. :)
I can't imagine being in a situation such as your own without the full support of my family, so i wish you good luck, Kat, in your search for comfort (it sounds like in your "defiance" you might already be a pretty strong Mawrter move).
but, shoot, i don't even like talking about this stuff ... anyone want to return to the lit. we're reading ?
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